I hope I'm putting this in the right spot, don't shoot me if I'm wrong.

I am a bass player been playing for 4 years or so and I'm more from a punk, metal, hard rock kinda style.

Recently the band I joined is more of a blusey based sound.

I was told I should do a walking bass line. Lets pretend its in the Key of E. What notes do I hit? I hate to sound dumb but I'm not exactly sure what to do. I want to make it look like I atleast have a clue what to do.

Thanks guys
I would listen to some songs with a walking bassline. You can of course write a bassline, it doesn't need to be improvised. But the main thing in walking bass is to play the chord tones. So follow the chord progression and play some chord tones and some passing notes in between the chord tones. Walk up (or down) to the next chord (I would maybe try to hit the root of the chord when the chord changes). You can use chromatic notes, whatever. I'm not a master in playing walking bass but I can do it. The safest thing to do is to only play the chord tones. But maybe try writing a walking bassline. Think what you want to hear. You will get some ideas if you listen to songs with walking basslines.

How fast is the song you are playing? I'm much better at playing walking bass over a slow blues song than a fast one.
Quote by AlanHB
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Apr 14, 2013,

Here's a decent webpage to check out. Also Ed Friedland's books are fairly inexpensive and great references as well

Listen to B.B. King. You can't go wrong listening to hours of his blues songs and the bass parts on those. 12 bar blues are a great way to set your groove as well since you as the bass player more than the drummer drive the song.
When they say walking bass, they may
really be talking about a shuffle.

Start with the D sharp just before the
number 1 beat and hammer on to the
E note and mute it at the number 1 beat.
Then play the E just before tha E an
octave above on the second beat and
mute. Walk back to the E below in that
fashion using D, or D flat. Then B.
Do those notes using the same shuffle.
Then start over. Then just use a
similar fashion in the other chords.

That covers most 3 cord blues songs.


This guy is a fantastic teacher. Most of the lessons are free but I suggest going ahead and paying for the backing stuff and other materials. They are more than reasonable.

He thoroughly covers walking in most keys and the theory behind it.
Scottsbass is fantastic.

You may not need to learn to walk completely. You'll need to learn your scales though. Most blues bass lines walk up and down the scales, start with simple triad arpeggios then move onto the pentatonic. Blues uses a lot of the minor 7th so avoid the major 7th (you need to play two frets below the root and avoid playing one fret below which gives a country or rock'n'roll feel to the song)

'True' walking bass is used more in Jazz than blues. Here the last note you play in a bar is in the scale of the chord of the next bar. You are kind of anticipating the chord change for the band which gives that lovely fluid feel that a proper walking bass line creates. Never managed to do this improvising myself but blues usually uses a very predictable 12 bar structure so you can simply learn a walking bass if needed. Mainly you'll need a pattern on a scale though.

Shuffle is about rhythm. Most blues is in triplets so 12 beats to the bar in 4/4 time. Confusingly this is often played as two beats with the first elongated, tum ti tum ti tum ti tum ti the rhythm you hear in just about any blues or blues based song. For old farts like me all our songs shuffled, playing straight time took adjustment.

Have fun.
Yes, to pretty much everything here, Except for Tabdog, I have no clue what he's trying to talk about.

Walking bass needs to be rhythmically solid, so chuck on a metronome and just bash out quarter notes for about five hours a day, then in about a couple of weeks you'll have the feel and groove for any blues band.

And for the actual notes, Scales and Arpeggios are where they all come from, Learn your Major and Minor Pentatonics as well, they will definitely make your line sound more bluesy.

So for example if your in EMajor, you'll find playing the E note the G# the B and the D notes will fit on nearly any beat of the bear. But save them for strong beats of the bar, that is beats 1 and 3, and on weak beats 2 and 4 you can play a note that isn't in the scale/arpeggio but it had better be followed by a fully resolved scale notes by at least the end or the start of the next bar. Definitely resolve going into a chord change if you can. (playing notes outside of the chord creates a tension because it's an unpleasant note in the harmony of things, people like that stuff, so playing notes perfectly in harmony is a resolved sound, little bits of tension to signify a change in chord sounds really good, building the tension right before the big final chord to a huge resolve sounds good, just like the end of Beethovens 5th)

Not sure how much momentum you want for you walking lines because it may be more of jazz thing, but work on putting your accent on beats 2 and 4, not on 1 and 3, this will feel a little strange, but it gives your line more movement and flow, and it supports soloists with more fluidity.
Last edited by AquaSqueeze at May 5, 2013,
Quote by slap-a-bass
it always helps me to pace around while playing walking bass lines...lmao

Its probably the best way to imagine what your playing anyway. Walking up and down hills, some steeper, some more gradual.
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